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Well ought a priest ensample for to give,
By his cleanness, how his sheep should live.
He set not his benefice to hire,
Or left his sheep bewildered in the mire,
And ran unto London, unto Saint Paul's,
To seeken him a chanterie for souls,
Or with a brotherhood to be withold:
But dwelt at home, and kept well his fold,
So that the wolf ne made it not miscarry.
He was a shepherd and no mercenarie,
And though he holy were, and virtuous,
He was to sinful men not dispiteous,
Nor of his speech dangerous nor high,
But in his teaching discrete and benigne.
To draw his folk to heaven, with fairness,
By good ensample, was his business:
But if were any person obstinate,
Whether he were of high, or low estate,
Him would he reprove sharply for the nones,
A better priest I trow that nowhere is.
He waited after neither pomp ne reverence,
Nor maked him no spiced conscience,
But Christ's lore and his Apostles twelve
He taught, but first he followed it himselve.
DESCRIPTION OF THE KINGS OF THRACE AND INDIA.
There mightst thou see, coming with Palamon, The great Lycurgus, sovrein king of Thrace: Black was his beard, and manly was his face; The restless glancing of his eyen bright, Shone with a glowing and a fearful light, And like a griffon looked he about.
His limbs were great, his sinews hard and strong,
His shoulders broad, his arms were round and long;
And, as the manner was in his countree,
Full high upon a car of gold stood he,
Drawen by four bulls of milk-white hue.
And in the place of any coat of mail,
He had a bear's skin, black as is a coal.
His hair was long, and braided down his back,
As any raven's feather shining black.
A coronet of gold, of greatest weight,
Upon his head sat, full of jewels bright,
Of rubies fine, and sparkling diamonds.
About his car there wenten snow-white hounds,
Twenty and more, as great as any steer,
To hunten at the lion or the deer;
And followed him, with muzzle fast ybound.
With Arcite came Emetrius, king of Inde,
Upon a bay steed, trapped o'er with steel,
Covered with cloth of gold, embroidered well,
Riding like the dreadful war god, Mars.
His coat armour was of a cloth of Tarse,
Covered with pearls, white, round, and great;
His saddle was of pure gold, newly beat;
A mantle upon his shoulders hanging,
Studded with rubies, like red fire sparkling;
His crisp hair into ringlets ran,
Yellow, and bright, and shining as the sun;
His nose was high, his eyen bright and keen,
His lippes round, his colour was sanguine,
And as a lion he his looks did fling;
His voice was like a trumpet thundering;
Upon his head he wore of laurel green
A garland, fresh and beauteous to be seen;
And on his hand he bare, for his delight,
An eagle tame, as any lily white;
About him ran and played their wilful game
Full many a lion and a leopard tame.
ERE long they come, where that same wicked wight His dwelling has, low in a hollow cave, Far underneath a craggy cliff ypight, Dark, doleful, dreary, like a greedy grave, That still for carrion carcases doth crave: On top whereof ay dwelt the ghastly owl, Shrieking his baleful note, which ever drave Far from that haunt all other cheerful fowl; And all about it wandering ghosts did wail and howl.
And all about old stocks and stubs of trees, Whereon nor fruit nor leaf was ever seen. Did hang upon the ragged, rocky knees; On which had many wretches hanged been, Whose carcases were scattered on the green, And thrown about the cliffs. Arrived there, That bare-head Knight, for dread and doleful teene, Would fain have fled, ne durst approachen near; But the other forced him stay, and comforted in fear
That darksome cave they enter, where they find
That cursed man, low sitting on the ground,
Musing full sadly in his sullen mind;
His grisly locks, long growen and unbound,
Disordered hung about his shoulders round,
And hid his face; through which his hollow eyne
Looked deadly dull, and stared as astound;
His raw-bone cheeks, through penury and pine, Were shrunk into his jaws, as he did never dine:
His garment, nought but many ragged clouts,
With thorns together pinned and patched was,
The which his naked sides he wrapped abouts:
And him beside there lay upon the grass
A dreary corse, whose life away did pass,
All wallowed in his own yet lukewarm blood,
That from his wound yet welled, fresh, alas!
In which a rusty knife fast fixed stood,
And made an open passage for the gushing flood.
Which piteous spectacle approving true The wofull tale that Trevisan had told, When as the gentle red-cross knight did view, With fiery zeal he burnt in courage bold, Him to avenge before his blood was cold; And to the villain said, “Thou damned wight, The author of this fact we here behold, What justice can but judge against thee right, With thine own blood to price his blood, here shed in